Thursday 5 March 2015

St Piran's Day

"I know that no person will ever get into my blood as a place can, as Cornwall does. People and things pass away but not places."  Daphne du Maurier

G'day g'day g'day.  'tis St Piran's Day in Perranporth, Lostwithiel, Penzance, and Truro . . . and wherever Cornish folk do gather.
"by Tre-, Pol- and Pen-
ye shall know the Cornishmen"
that makes it easy to smoke t'buggers wherever they are.  If you know someone called Trelawney, for example, it is up to you to treat her to a Cornish pasty this lunchtime . . . even if you are a grockle, as the Cornish people call the gentiles who swamp their beaches every Summer. You'll find Cornish descended folks all over the world because they have mining - a transferrable skill - in their bones from millennia of digging Tin. in their bones If you are caught in a traffic jam on the A30 [the main artery from London to the tip of the count{r}y at Land's End today, you are likely to see people face-painted: blacked-up with a white cross rollicking about the place - quite possibly drunk. It's a sort of preview of the far more well-known celebration of St. Patrick's day in a fortnight's time.  As well as there being a modest party in Cornwall today, there is a Cornish National Party of sorts every day called Mebyon Kernow which is sort of lefty-green, sort of useless: with Mission Statement "policies" that are too vague to distinguish them from the aspirationbs of any of my tree-hugging pals in Ireland: "Prosperity for all, Social justice, Environmental protection".  I cannot find a single name among elected party members whose name begins with Tre-, Pol- or Pen-, for example, so you may guess that few of them have grandparents who were born in the Duchy.  Nevertheless, you may accord them a label of "mostly harmless" like most of humanity: the MK chaps are more likely to be found striking a dramatic pose like the chap on the horse holding St Piran's Flag up against the Sun [above L], than setting fire to holiday homes like nationalists in Wales, the next stop North along the Celtic fringe.

You may think you can't see the true colours of the flag because the Sun is a lot brighter than the bloke on the horse; but you can, because St. Piran's Cross is white on a black ground and so the negative of the Kroaz Du, the emblem of the next stop South and terminus of the Celtic fringe in Brittany. I've not mentioned either before in my several treatises on Vexillology.  Welsh and Breton are real languages spoken by normal people in the homes, far more [Cymraeg 580,000; Brezhoneg 200,000] than speak Irish here, for example. The same cannot be said of Cornish: the most recent extant written document in the language dates from 1776; although it might have been spoken by a diminishing handful of people for a hundred years after that. Dolly Pentreath [d. 1777] may have been the last Cornish monoglot. There was a revival more or less at the same time as the mystical woo-wah Celtic Revival of W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory but there was no Easter Rising, no patriot martyrs and so the revival of the Cornish language is fizzling along even less successfully than Irish.  In the 2011 Census, 557 people claimed Cornish to be their main language, but I don't think anyone has cross-referenced these Cornish speakers to see how many of them declare their religion to be Jedi. Maybe they should?

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